Orbea Gain E-Road Bike

Rincon

Active Member
I test rode an Orbea Gain today. I rode both the classic road version and the gravel grinder All Road model. Both were bottom of the line bikes, but with the same motor and battery as the higher level models. They are all disappointingly limited to 20 mph. The local dealer was only allocated these two bikes.

Both bikes are exceedingly stealthy and sexy. It is impossible to tell they are ebikes other than the small illuminated control button on the top tube. It is the only control on the bike—a fatal shortcoming. More on that later. The motor is in the rear hub, which is discreet. There are no visible wires. The pleasing aesthetics are undeniable. The 250Wh battery is hidden away in the small down tube. On appearance alone these are sleek, standard road bikes.

The aluminum road model was fully charged but unfortunately the motor didn’t work. I rode it around the block, then the dealer took it out. It powered up, changed power levels, but never engaged the motor. Apparently it worked the day before.

The All Road model was outfitted with an off-road 1x crank and knobby tires. The motor worked. It is agile, lightweight at ~25 lbs, and fun to ride as far as it goes. Both come in aluminum and carbon fiber versions.

The problem starts with changing power levels. It reminds me of the original Specialized Turbo Levo eMTB. The power level button was located out of sight on the side of the down tube—dangerously requiring one hand off the handlebars to blindly change levels. Who would design that into a mountain bike?

Orbea takes reckless to the next level. On the Gain you change the power level by briefly pressing the top tube button, waiting for it to blink, then within two seconds pressing it again. So one hand off the handlebars and both eyes off the road.

This cycles through low, medium, and high one at a time. To go from high back to medium, say after cresting a hill, you repeat this process three times. From high mode you take one hand off the handlebars, both eyes off the road, press the button, watch to see if it is blinking, then press again to turn the motor off. That’s right, off follows high. You’ve just turned the motor off. Now repeat the process twice more to move from off to low and from low to medium. I found this completely unworkable and dangerous, having to look down at the top tube with one hand off the handlebar keying in an obscure sequence of push button Morse code.

Aside from the terrible user interface, the bike was underpowered. Orbea markets the bike for those who want to feel the road, essentially making a feature out of the lack of power. Does anyone buy an ebike and not want to feel the power? Maybe. No one I know. I found the Orbea Gain slow off the line, plodding on hills, and feeling lively only in a small cadence/speed sweet spot.

I’m not sure who will be happy with the Gain. Experienced ebikers demand safe, informative controls along with power which the Gain just does not deliver. Aging roadies with creaky knees will need usable power, not just stealth for their egos.

The Orbea Gain is a self-loathing e-road bike v1.0. It is the victim of roadie navel gazing, deep philosophizing about stealth, fretting over the 28 mph speed limit, and justifying low power by purporting to put “you” into the ebike. In reality the Gain’s frustrating design won’t please anyone looking for a fun way to combine the freedom of ebike speed, range, and acceleration with a light weight and agile road bike. Roadie bike manufacturers need to get over themselves and uncork a full fledged e-road bike that isn’t ashamed of its genetics. Specialized did it with the Turbo Levo v2. I went to the bike shop today to buy an Orbea Gain. Instead I’ll wait for v2.
 
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JRA

Well-Known Member
"Roadie bike manufacturers need to get over themselves and uncork a full fledged e-road bike that isn’t ashamed of its genetics."

Here here. 250w/250wh systems only make a bike heavier and won't compensate for the added weight. The whole stealth thing is like being in a closet, might as well be out about the fact that you are riding an eBike because, well, you are.

Doesn't have to be way more power, my road bikes have over 1000w available but I mostly ride in 500w mode for the best combo of average speed (more than I can do unassisted) and desired range out of my 520wh battery.

Having a display providing enough detailed info, speed/distance,/ah's used/,wh/mi and motor temp is not a big deal to have on board either.
 
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Over50

Well-Known Member
I test rode an Orbea Gain today. I rode both the classic road version and the gravel grinder All Road model. Both were bottom of the line bikes, but with the same motor and battery as the higher level models... The aluminum road model was fully charged but unfortunately the motor didn’t work. I rode it around the block, then the dealer took it out. It powered up, changed power levels, but never engaged the motor. Apparently it worked the day before ...The problem starts with changing power levels...Orbea takes reckless to the next level. On the Gain you change the power level by briefly pressing the top tube button, waiting for it to blink, then within two seconds pressing it again. So one hand off the handlebars and both eyes off the road...This cycles through low, medium, and high one at a time. To go from high back to medium, say after cresting a hill, you repeat this process three times. From high mode you take one hand off the handlebars, both eyes off the road, press the button, watch to see if it is blinking, then press again to turn the motor off. That’s right, off follows high. You’ve just turned the motor off. Now repeat the process twice more to move from off to low and from low to medium. I found this completely unworkable and dangerous, having to look down at the top tube with one hand off the handlebar keying in an obscure sequence of push button Morse code....Aside from the terrible user interface, the bike was underpowered...I’m not sure who will be happy with the Gain. Experienced ebikers demand safe, informative controls along with power which the Gain just does not deliver. Aging roadies with creaky knees will need usable power, not just stealth for their egos....The Orbea Gain is a self-loathing e-road bike v1.0. It is the victim of roadie navel gazing, deep philosophizing about stealth, fretting over the 28 mph speed limit, and justifying low power by purporting to put “you” into the ebike. In reality the Gain’s frustrating design won’t please anyone looking for a fun way to combine the freedom of ebike speed, range, and acceleration with a light weight and agile road bike...
This is a very good review. Disappointing news to say the least. I was hoping and expecting to read something different. I was in no way considering an e-road bike but was still hoping and expecting to read how Orbea was raising the bar by achieving great performance while meeting the goal of stealthy design. Thanks for the well-written write-up.
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
An honest review. Orbea needs to fix the controls, but I wonder if they'll do anything about the low power output. I understand what they're trying to do-make a light e-bike so it will only need e-power on the hills. As Rincon mentioned I wonder how many cyclists will purchase this e-bike with it's limited power output.

Another e-road bike I'm following is the new Cannondale Synapse Neo 1, with a Bosch 250W drive unit and 500Wh battery.

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Canada/Bike/ProductDetail?Id=bfd66f95-58ab-46c7-9148-80fda01b4d35
 

Rincon

Active Member
There are quite a few European e-road bikes waiting in the wings for US release in 2019. The bikes are based on the Fazua motor. Pinarello, Look, Bianchi, Bulls and others have licensed Fazua’s stealthy road bike technology.

The motor and battery sit in the down tube, powering the crank directly. The bikes are sleek and lightweight and should retain the agile aspects that road bike enthusiasts love.

Yet similar to the Orbea Gain’s Ebikemotion motor, the Fazua is not powerful. “The engine supports you very gently when starting up. Just as gently, the engine shuts off at 25 km/h again.” So another disappointing speed limitation, this time at 15 mph. It’s basically for plodding up hills. Hopefully that will be corrected in the US release version.

Based on these proposed bikes it will be a few years before we see e-road bikes mature into a product that experienced e-bikers will enthusiastically embrace. Despite the attraction of a svelt e-road bike, I won’t be trading in my speedy but 60lb Stromer ST2 any time soon.
 
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Deacon Blues

Active Member
If this new wave of e-road bikes keep their 25 kph engine cut-off when they hit the North America market I can't see them being well received. The Canadian province I live in (British Columbia) has e-bikes regulated to max out at 32 kph, which is still too low. Luckily, I was able to chance the engine cut-out on my Pedego Ridgerider to 40 kph. I'd be happier with 45 or 50 kph, though.
I wouldn't buy an e-road bike with an engine cut-off at 25 kph.
 

AvgJoe

New Member
I am a new owner of the Gain D20. I have ridden the bike 3 times for a total of 75 Miles. So far, I would say the bike has met or exceeded my expectations. I chose the Gain because it was less powered than most e-bikes, I cycle regularly but with my weight 245 at 6’1” and frequent back issues, I just wanted some assist on hills. I agree with the review that the single button could be improved to show what assist level your in at all times, but I disagree that the button and location is dangerous. It may be me, but I am not constantly changing the level and usually just increase the assist at the start of a hill and turn down at the crest. The bike handles like a road bike, weighs about 30lbs but once up to speed riding with no or minimal assist works well.
It’s not quite the workout as a regular bike, but the little bit of assist works for me, easy on the back and lotsa fun. I would be too tempted to run at higher assist if it powered up to 28mph, the max at 15 seems good for me.
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
Thanks for the review, AvgJoe.
I lead a senior's cycling group and the two road bikes I ride are non-powered (Special Diverge and Giant Defy Pro 0).
I'm a half decently strong rider for my age (67), but recent heart issues means that I may have to go to an e-road bike to help me on the hills.
I also own a Pedego Ridgerider mountain bike and it has plenty of torque, making hill climbing a breeze. Realistically, I don't need that much power. That's why I think the Gain D20 would work for me.

I did read one review on the D20 and the rider said he thought the rear end was overly stiff and the front end had a bit too much flex (rotor rubbing while cornering). What's your thoughts on the bike's comfort level?

Also, where do you live? I live in British Columbia, Canada, and I don't think this bike is available in Canada yet. I really hope that when the bike is available they bump the motor cut-off to our province's 32km max.
I can't see me hitting more than 32km up hills. :)
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
Looks like the Gain will not be available in Canada for a while. Fortunately, the Wilier Cento1 Hybrid will, and it has the same motor/battery setup.
 

Ed B

Member
Hey All - FYI... Looks like maybe Orbea has a dealer incentive program going on right now... some of the Gains (primarily the Carbon Road models) were pushed out to late February 2019 delivery... but it sounds like some dealers are giving discounts of up to 6-7%... kinda confusing because most I talked to quickly sold what they had in late 2018 (my understanding is that these were mostly the aluminum gravel bikes) and have back orders on the carbon road bikes... but I was offered a discount on an M20i if I order now.
 

MikeDee

Active Member
I'm interested in the Gain M20. I haven't seen one yet. I think it would be perfect for what I'm looking for. I want a light bike and intend for the assist to make long climbs easier. Those that have these bikes, what's it like to ride it up a mountain climb?

I think the OP has a definite bias against Class 1 ebikes and obviously prefers a Class 3. Also, his criticism of the power button seems a bit much, as one owner says it's not a big deal. However, Road Bike Action had a criticism of it as well and compared it to texting while riding. I find the criticism puzzling, as I ride one handed to take a drink from a water bottle.

I don't want or need a heavy Class 3 bike.

I'm wondering if I should wait till next year as there may be significant improvements then, as this is a new model. Right now, I've only found one in my size in my area, so they are in short supply now.
 
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Ed B

Member
MikeDee - I think it will be about 12+ months before any new models show up... there might be some tweaks to the frame, but doubt we'll see significant changes to the motor... one risk is that trade wars are making Chinese motor parts more expensive and slower to get... the ebikemotion x35 is in high demand. One US dealer told me that future software upgrades (which will enhance the features of the electronics) are already in the works (ala Tesla cars). I would have preferred to wait for a bike with the Mavic Cosmic Carbon Pro wheel... but the date kept slipping... so went for the Aksiums on my M20i (also slated for late Feb).

The environment is clearly rapidly evolving so sure there will be some improvements and new offerings but Orbea frame is proven, and ebikemotion is fairly proven so IMHO we're currently at a pretty stable place.
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
Just wondering about the top speed limiter-Mdelbourne23, do you live in Australia? I know it will be 25kph in Europe, but I wonder if they will adjust it for other markets. For instance, in British Columbia, Canada it's the legal limit is 32kph and in California it's 45kph.

I was able to set the limiter to 40kph on my Pedigo Ridgerider. I don't often need that high of a top end, but once and the while when I do it's nice to have.
 

MikeDee

Active Member
I bought an M30 a few days ago and have a couple of rides on it. I rode 38 miles today and averaged 2 mph faster over the same ride I did last week on my road bike. Most of the ride was in the eco mode. Some of the hills were in the mid power mode, and the system was in no assist mode for a few miles too. At the end I was at 43% battery life; not too bad over a ride with rolling hills. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the bottle battery when it becomes available.

The speed at which the power assist cuts off is 20 mph; not 15 as reported above. This is in the US. In the EU it's 25 kph (15.5 mph). The power cutoff is not abrupt and it's difficult to tell at what speed above 20 mph it's actually occurring.

The bike is tubeless ready, but comes with tubes installed. It has room for 40mm wide tires and comes with 28mm wide tubeless tires. I'm thinking of getting wider tires to ride gravel and soften the ride. The wheels and tires are Mavic tubeless ready UST. This is about the best engineered tubeless system as the tires can be mounted and removed without tools and can be aired up without an air compressor.

The groupset is Shimano 105 11 speed mechanical with 105 disc brakes with 160mm rotors front and rear. It shifts and stops nicely. Gearing is 50x34 front and 11-32 rear. There's plenty of gearing over a wide range, even when you run out of electric power.

One thing I don't like is the chainstays are wide at the back. I'm duck footed so my heels hit the chainstays now and then. I'm going to have to adjust my cleats to prevent that. I can hear a little brake rotor rub on occasion when pedaling out of the saddle.

The motor is seamlessly integrated and very quiet. I could only hear it on climbs. I can detect no motor drag when power assistance is off, however the rear wheel doesn't spin as freely as an unpowered bike if you pick up the back of the bike and give the wheel a spin by hand. I haven't used the iPhone app much, other than to check the power level at the end of the ride. I'm thinking of getting a bar mount for my phone but I have a Garmin and it would probably drain my phone battery pretty quickly if there's a lot of screen time. From reading the information on the EVmotion website, the battery is supposed to have a USB output. It would be nice if Orbea would provide a way to tap into that to power a cell phone. The iOS app is impressive and sophisticated, but unfortunately currently not useful while riding without an external power source and holder for the phone.

I didn't have much problem with the power button out on the road changing power modes. It's not something that I need to do often. I'm sure I'll get more adept at it. I think I fumbled with it once when I was trying to cycle through several modes to go from moderate back to eco mode.

The bike has a thru axle at the front and nuts at the rear wheels. Make sure you carry a multi tool and it fits these fasteners so you can repair a flat out on the road.

The bike weighs about 25 pounds which means it pedals easily when the power assist is off or you run out of battery. It also handles like a regular road bike as it's not too heavy. It has endurance geometry and rides and handles nicely and has no toe overlap (I have the large sized frame).

As Greg LeMond once said, "It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster." That about sums up my experience. If you're looking for an easy ride, maybe a Class 3 bike would be better. But if you're looking for an ebike that's similar in weight and handling to your current road bike and that makes the climbs a lot easier, then this bike is a good choice.

Update 1/29/19. I've ridden the bike on a number of rides. I love it. Looking forward to getting the bottle battery so I can do longer rides. I find I'm using powered assistance on the flats as well as climbs; great for headwinds.
 
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